Carfentanil, an opioid more toxic than fentanyl, linked to more deaths in B.C.

There were 64 deaths linked to carfentanil in the first quarter of 2019, compared to 35 in all of 2018

An increase in traces of carfentanil found in opioids in the province is being linked to 64 deaths in B.C. between January and March of 2019. (Black Press Media file photo)

There were 268 fatal overdoses from illicit drugs across B.C. in the first quarter of the year, and a concerning amount of those deaths involved carfentanil – a drug more toxic than fentanyl.

Carfentanil, a powerful opioid used by veterinarians for large animals like elephants, was found in toxicology reports on 64 British Columbians who died between January and March, the BC Coroners Service said Wednesday.

That’s compared to 35 deaths linked to the opioid in 2018.

Carfentanil is 100 times more toxic than fentanyl – the illicit street drug that accounts for 80 per cent of the 3,200 overdose deaths that have occurred since 2017.

READ MORE: Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem, report finds

READ MORE: Top doctor urges B.C. to decriminilize illicit drugs

In March, 104 people fatally overdosed, or roughly three people per day. That is 34 per cent less than the same period in 2018. B.C. also saw a 34 per cent decrease in the number of deaths compared to the same period last year.

The cities experiencing the highest number of overdoses are Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria and Abbotsford.

Overdose deaths by city
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